There was a time that vampires were considered a classic staple of the horror genre. In a nutshell, they have been known to be scary, mocked and almost well-cultured. But one thing they have never genuinely been is funny. However, a new film from New Zealand, co-directed and co-written by Flight of the Conchords member Jermaine Clement, is bringing vampires back into a new light.
What We Do In The Shadows is a mockumentary revolving around four ancient vampires, who live together in a house in Wellington, New Zealand; hopeless romantic Viago (co-director and writer Taiki Waititi), tortured soul Vladislav (Clement), sleazy Deacon (Jonathan Burgh) and 9,000-year-old Nosferatu lookalike Petyr (Ben Fransham). Their harmonious household hits a snag when a local man called Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) is turned and his modern attitude to his newfound immortality clashes with the traditional yet simple lifestyle of the group.
What makes the film so endearing is its faithfulness to the classic deterrents of vampirism such as sunlight, coffins and bats. Even the rivalry between vampires and werewolves also pops up, but there is no shirt-shredding here – instead, there is humorous, clean trash talk. However, rather than the slick, methodical characters that have graced the silver screen, these vampires are idiotic. With a collective age of well over 8,000 years, their lifestyles and MOs in finding and disposing their victims are stuck the olden times, yet they seem to screw up with hilarious results.
The dynamic in the film changes when ‘modern’ vampire Nick and his programmer friend Stu join the household. The group’s introduction to modern technology and the conflict of attitudes between the quartet (who are used to hiding from the world) and Nick (who uses his immortality as a conversation starter) adds another layer of comedy, making it consistent throughout the film’s relatively short 87-minute running time.
The witty script and relatable characters are backed up by buckets of blood and the odd scare or two, making this film well-balanced in all its elements and if this wasn’t a mockumentary, it probably wouldn’t have been as funny.
Overall, What We Do In The Shadows not only sets the standard for a great vampire comedy, but also as a great comedy for 2014.
What We Do In The Shadows is out in UK cinemas on 21st November.
Directors: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi
Writers: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi
Stars: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonathan Brugh
Runtime: 86 min
Country: New Zealand